What Is A Puppy Mill and how can you Stop them?


What Is A Puppy Mill?
By Shirley Patterson Secretary of the YTCA


A puppy mill is a mass dog breeding establishment that produces puppies for profit by selling them wholesale to the pet industry. Many puppy mills are characterized by overcrowding,filth,inadequate shelter, and insufficient food, water, and veterinary care. Most puppy mill owners sell their dogs wholesale to brokers, who in turn, sell them primarily to pet stores. Because profit, not quality dogs, is the ultimate goal of the puppy mill owner, breeding practices are often shoddy, and the breeding dogs are kept under the most inexpensive possible conditions that will keep them alive and producing.

In contrast, there are hundreds of responsible and reputable kennels and breeding establishments throughout the country whose owners make a profit, but not at the expense of their dogs. Whether these breeders are full-time professionals making an entire living from a kennel, or hobby breeders with 5 or 10 animals, the responsible breeder is as concerned with improving the quality of the breed, by showing or belonging to a breed club, than he or she is at making money. Customers wishing to buy puppies from these breeders are welcome to inspect the premises and in most cases, to meet the puppies parents.

In between the puppy mill operators and the responsible kennel owners are the so-called " backyard breeders" whose newspaper ads dot Sunday papers each week. These are people who own one or two purebred dogs and produce a litter of puppies once a year or so for extra money or " because I want my dog to have the experience of being a mother before I get her spayed or Aunt Tillie would like to have a puppy just like my mine." Like puppy mill puppies these animals are often haphazardly bred with no regard to the consequences and their offspring will most often suffer the same consequences.

As secretary for the YTCA I answer an enormous amount of calls each day. I spend at least half the day conversing with many first time pet buyers who seek to have guidance in finding a healthy pet and also the best breed for their individual life style. I also talk to many individuals who have already purchased a pet and are now experiencing problems be it minor ( Why are my Yorkies ears not standing up?) to more serious health problems and what to do about them since now there is no one interested or concerned enough about the puppy to answer these questions.

A Responsible breeder will give each puppy the socialization that it needs and this requires a great deal of devotion and patience . They are responsible for each puppy that they have bred. (The puppies new owner will reap these benefits.) Their dogs are their number one concern as they are completely dependent on them for their care, training and medical attention. Their dogs are "special " to them .

My own personal feeling is "If you are making money in dogs, you are either overbreeding or your dogs are not receiving the proper medical attention that they so deserve.


How can you help Stop a Puppymill

Depending on where you live (or on where the puppymill is located), there are several things you can do.

First, though, you need to know that you can't stop a puppymill on your own but its very helpful to have as much information as possible. Have you been to this puppymill? Or has someone told you about it? Do you have any idea about the number of animals there? First hand experience is usually most credible but any reliable tip should be appreciated by the authorities. If you can get photo's of the puppymill, without getting caught taking them, that would help too.

Commercial breeders must have licenses, generally State, County (or City) and USDA. These "businesses" are subject to inspections. Back yard breeders (BYB's) and illegal mass breeders usually don't have licenses but they are still subject to the laws pertaining to animal breeding. Most also need "Business" licenses. If you report an operation that isn't licensed, generally the authorities can move pretty quickly.

Oddly enough, dog and cat breeding is monitored through the US Dept of Agriculture and the animal welfare laws. Its considered the same as breeding, raising, selling cows, pigs, sheep, etc. I think most State agencies also regulate animal breeding through their agriculture department while most cities and counties do it under animal control.

The USDA monitors animal breeders for complaince to animal welfare laws.
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/

This page details the regulations for animal breeding facilities:
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/inspect.html

At the bottom of this web page is contact information. You can call, write or email them and request copies of previous inspections done at the location you know about and report your puppymill complaint to them.

You can also locate the nearest USDA office through this web page if you prefer to talk to someone closer to where you are:
http://offices.usda.gov/scripts/ndISAPI.dll/oip_public/USA_map

The USDA has been very severely criticized in recent years for not being aggressive enough in pursuing animal abuse and neglect in puppymills. They are supposedly much better now because of all the negative publicity (and millions of letters from pet lovers).

Your State should also have an agency/department that also licenses/monitors breeders. Generally you can get this information in the "state" government section of your phone book or the local library should be able to help. Contact them too.

Also, the county/city where the puppymill is located probably also has regulations regarding animal breeding. They are also businesses and licenses needed for that as well. [Sometimes puppymills are closed just by the county requiring a business license and closing them down for lack of one.]

You should also contact the nearest Humane Society and/or ASPCA and talk to someone in authority there ~ not just the person who answers the phone, ask for the director or assistant director. Sometimes it helps to call, ask the name of the director and assistant director, then say thanks and hang up. A little while later, call back and ask for the director by name, if not available ask about the assistant director. Often this gets you through to the right person instead of being just another "pink phone message" along with many others.

Each one of these groups has the authority to investigate and stop puppymills (bust them) but all are busy, underfunded, etc. It would probably be helpful to mention to each agency that you talk to that you'll also "be contacting the USDA, the State dept of .... the County animal control, etc." even if you've already contacted some of them, just say you "will be" contacting them... if you say you already have talked to them, the person you're talking to might think, "Oh if she's talked to so and so, I don't have to do anything right now." Whereas if you say, I'll also be contacting, so and so and such and such, you may bring out a competitive response (or an "I want to check this out before they do!" type of thing).

It isn't easy stopping puppymillers and it can be very frustrating. But more and more government agencies are doing better at shutting them down. The Humane Society and ASPCA aren't government agencies and rely on donations and volunteers but they are concerned, very proactive and usually work with the government groups in busts and rescuing the animals.

You have to be persistent, calling everyone and telling them as much as you can. Assuming you get the right person on each call, you'll be making at least 4 phone calls, each long enough to tell your entire story... but realistically it'll more be likely double or triple the number of calls before you reach the right people.

Remember that it helps to be as nice as you can to whomever you talk to... You may feel angry and frustrated by what you know, but these are the people who can stop it and they need people like you to tell them about abusers. Your call will be one of countless other calls they each will take that day. Appreciating the fact that they are very busy and overworked will go a long way in their willingness to talk to you and hear what you have to say.

Also, remember that it can take a while to get an investigation going so you have to try to be patient too. Sometimes the authorities can move very quickly but generally it takes time to build their cases, get the evidence and the warrants needed. Many puppymillers are very clever in hiding what they do, often having the majority of the animals hidden away in remote areas of rural properties ~ so goverment inspectors see only a tiny portion of the operation when they inspect... a nice barn near the street, all looking good, meanwhile, hundreds of animals live in hell a few miles back in the woods.

These are first steps you can take to stop puppymills. Often they are all that are needed, that and you're being persistent. Calling the various agencies, telling them as much as you can. Wait a day or too and call back, ask if there is any progress. Then wait a week or two and call again. Don't be a pest, just persistent.

If you've tried all these and still need help, please email us and we'll try to help you more. You can contact us at: alert@puppymills.com

Also, please let us know if you've successfully stopped a puppymill or if your work is making progress. All to often, all we hear is the "bad news."

Puppymills are a blight and cause immeasurable hurt to people who only want a pet they can love forever. Loving pet owners are cheated out of years of love and the poor little pets die miserable, unnecessary deaths.

Its so important that anyone wanting a pet research the pet, the breed and the breeder. So many pet lovers grieve and so many pets have died because of unethical breeders and the breeders quest for more dollars. It isn't fair. It isn't just. And breeders who do that need to be stopped. And if they've abuse or neglected animals, they need to be prosecuted under Animal Welfare laws.

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